ScienceRocket Lab is about to try catching a falling...

Rocket Lab is about to try catching a falling rocket with a helicopter

In a world first, Rocket Lab will attempt to catch its Electron rocket as it falls from space, using a hook mounted on a helicopter


27 April 2022

Captured rocket

An artist’s impression of a captured Electron rocket

Rocket Lab

A US launch company is about to attempt a historic first: catching a rocket falling back to Earth in mid-air using a helicopter.

The company, Rocket Lab, will attempt the feat from 2235 GMT on 28 April, weather permitting, with one of its Electron rockets launched from New Zealand’s Māhia peninsula. The mission, dubbed “There and Back Again”, will see the small rocket carry 34 satellites to Earth orbit, including one to monitor Earth’s light pollution.

Two and a half minutes after launching, the first and second stages of the rocket will separate. While the latter continues to travel to orbit, the former will fall back to Earth, reaching temperatures of 2400°C and speeds of more than 8000 kilometres per hour. It will then deploy a parachute to slow its descent to just over 35 kilometres per hour, before entering a “capture zone” above the Pacific Ocean.

Here, a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter operated by Rocket Lab will attempt to latch on to the parachute with a hook, with the capture expected about 18 minutes after launch. If successful, it will then transport the rocket back to land, possibly to be reused on a future mission.

“Trying to catch a rocket as it falls back to Earth is no easy feat,” Rocket Lab’s CEO, Peter Beck, said in a statement. “We’re absolutely threading the needle here.”

At 18 metres tall, the Electron rocket is relatively small, about a quarter of the size of SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Yet Rocket Lab hopes to follow in the footsteps of Elon Musk’s company by making its rockets reusable to reduce launch costs, albeit via mid-air capture rather than landing on the ground or floating barges.

Rocket Lab has already practiced parachuting its rockets back into the ocean on previous launches, incurring salt damage that made them unable to be reused, and recently captured a dummy rocket with its helicopter.

Mid-air capture has been attempted before, perhaps most infamously with NASA’s Genesis spacecraft in 2004, which failed to deploy its parachute and crash-landed in the Utah desert, damaging its priceless samples of solar wind.

Sign up to our free Launchpad newsletter for a voyage across the galaxy and beyond, every Friday

More on these topics:

Original Source Link

Latest News

Azteco Is Helping Millions Buy Bitcoin Without Sharing Their Identity

Company Name: AztecoFounders: Alexander Fernandez and Paul FergusonDate Founded: 2014Location of Headquarters: Santa Monica, CAAmount of Bitcoin in Treasury:...

The Linux Foundation announces the Open Platform for Enterprise AI, to foster the development of open, multi-provider, and composable generative AI systems (Kyle Wiggers/TechCrunch)

Kyle Wiggers / TechCrunch: The Linux Foundation announces the Open Platform for Enterprise AI, to foster the development...

Trump Didn’t Violate Logan Act with Reshare of Old Iran Social Media Post, Experts Say

PolitiFact (Jeff Cercone) has the story; I am one of the experts. An excerpt about the facts: After...

AI pinpoints where psychosis originates in the brain

New brain scans from people with psychosis may confirm a long-standing theory as to why people experience these...

Income Needed to Buy Your First Home in Seattle

It’s approaching $200,000, among the highest in the nation. Seattle, WA, is known for its natural beauty, outdoor recreation,...

Must Read

Income Needed to Buy Your First Home in Jacksonville

It’s less than Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Jacksonville, FL,...
- Advertisement -

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you